By Jeremiah Jackson, JacksonJ2@Findlay.edu
The University of Findlay offers many different travel-abroad opportunities to students. UF alumni Kaleb Brown took advantage of these study abroad opportunities by traveling to over 20 countries.
Brown was asked a series of questions about his experiences abroad and the programs UF offers.
How did you get involved in studying abroad?
“I got involved with the Buford Center for Diversity and Service. Within the office, there’s the office for Intercultural Student Services, International Education and Service & Community Engagement. Being immersed within all three of these offices, I had a lot of different opportunities to learn about the experiences that they provided,” Brown said. “I’ve always been super passionate about traveling. So, my third week I got to Findlay, I learned about serving abroad and that was my first international experience with the university. We traveled to the Dominican Republic where I became a student leader for that trip. That exposed me to a lot of the different travel opportunities that the University of Findlay offered. The school makes it easy for you to participate in these programs through scholarships. They just want to help you have that meaningful college experience.”
How important is it for people to expose themselves to a different culture?
“So, that’s one of the reasons why travel is so important to me. It truly exposes you to the world and you get to learn about other people’s lives outside of America.” Brown said. “Some people might say that there’s certain perceptions that are placed on different cultures and it makes it harder to learn about those different cultures here. But when you travel and immerse yourself in another country, you really get to experience that culture, which is very eye opening. It’s a very intricate learning process because you’re able to interact with these cultures in their homeland and you get to see different cultural practices. One of my favorite ways to talk about culture is through food by eating a cultural meal with someone and having a nice dialog in the setting. That’s one of my favorite things to do because I love food; and there’s so many ways that you can be exposed to different ways of life that can change your thinking and perspective about life as well.”
Are there any challenges to going abroad?
“Absolutely. One of the most common ones is the language barrier which can be a very challenging experience sometimes, especially if you’ve never been abroad. The one thing that I’ve noticed throughout my travels is that when people know you’re American, or know you’re a foreigner, it’s surprising to see how hospitable some people are and how quickly they are to go out of their way to help you, even if you don’t understand the language,” Brown said. “In my experience, people have seen me struggle with the language and go out of their way to help me. It just really shows you how caring, kind and welcoming people are, especially in other countries where you’re a foreigner. Aside from the language barrier, traditional customs might be different, like having to acclimate to a different culture might be seen as challenging. When I was serving in the Peace Corps in Ghana, we ate with our hands and you’re not supposed to eat with your left hand, which is something I had to get used to. So, it’s just things like that within different cultures that you must pay attention to, but you also want to do that out of respect for the culture that you’re being immersed in.”
Could you see yourself living overseas?
“Yes. I’d love to have that experience of waking up and not knowing what you’re going to encounter that day,” Brown said. “For example, you don’t know what you’re going to meet, so every day becomes an adventure. When I was in China, that’s how I was literally every single day. I would have different interactions or I go throughout the day as only foreigner that I saw. It’s a beautiful experience when you’re able to become comfortable being uncomfortable, so you can learn about yourself. Just from my travel experiences, I’ve learned so much over time about myself, but also about the world. I would love to continue living in foreign countries and travel as much as I can while I’m here. That is one of my passions and I ultimately do want to do that.”